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There are 550,000 Airbnb listings in the Unites States and competition is fierce. With so many vacation rentals in some markets, guests expect more bang for their buck than ever before. But even if you have loads to offer travelers, it can be tricky to make your mark in a crowded marketplace. Here’s how to outrank your vacation rental competition so you can generate bigger profits and amplify bookings.

Identify Your Vacation Rental Competition

In some cities, the vacation rental market is a little congested. The number of Airbnb listings in San Diego, for example, has risen by 39 percent over the last 16 months, with the most sought-after properties in coastal communities like La Jolla, South Park, and Pacific Beach. It’s a similar story in L.A.: The total number of Airbnb listings in Los Angeles County increased by 42 percent from July 2015 to January 2016.

Trying to navigate an ever-competitive marketplace is difficult; however, identifying your vacation rental competition can give you a much-needed edge in your local area. The first step – search for similar properties in your neighborhood on sites like Airbnb and VRBO and find out who your rivals are.

Source the hosts with the highest guest ratings and figure out what makes them stand out from everyone else. Perhaps a property is closer to the beach or located in a more desirable part of town. Maybe a host is just better at marketing his or her property than everyone else. Once you’ve identified the traits shared by the most popular hosts, think about how you can replicate their success.

Your competitors aren’t just properties within your neighborhood. Hosts in nearby communities and cities could be luring guests to their properties, too. For example, a host with a beachside property in Santa Monica might tempt tourists away from downtown or Hollywood, historically the most popular tourist neighborhoods in the “City of Angels.” Venice is now the top revenue-generating neighborhood for Airbnb hosts in Los Angeles, outranking areas in the city’s central region, according to a study from the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy. Identify your competition across a wider area for deeper insights into the most popular properties.

Find Out What Your Guests Want

Travelers usually have a checklist of dream features before they even search for a rental. Incorporating some of these into your property could boost your bottom line. A sizable chunk of guests look specifically for properties with free Wi-Fi. Washer/dryer combos also prove popular, allowing guests to pack light and wash their dirty laundry. Also, more hosts are subscribing to services like HBO Go and Netflix, in lieu of standard cable or dish packages, which enable guests the option to watch exactly what they want.

Investing in more expensive amenities for your property could also provide you with a hefty return. Research shows that a hot tub could increase your room value by $31 per night, while a swimming pool could add $22 per night. Other desirable amenities, such as a new kitchen, lots of outdoor space or climate control, can give you a competitive advantage over your rivals.

Guests crave space, too. The amount of revenue generated from a spare couch or a shared room is a measly 0.56 percent, while an entire home can fetch more than 100 times that amount.

Airbnb 5 star reviews will help your vacation rental competitive advantage

What guests really want might come as a surprise. Simplifying situations for your guests will show up positively in your guest reviews and help give you that competitive edge over your neighbor. Travelers, for example, often need help to operate a heating or hot water system, especially when traveling from overseas. Others are overwhelmed by too much technology, such as more than one remote control for a TV or DVD player. Others just desperately want to avoid the hassle of finding parking. A seamless guest experience will shine through in your reviews and make your listing stand out, guaranteed.

Optimize Your Listing

Your property listing is a deal breaker for most guests. Get it right and you could accumulate more bookings. Get it wrong and guests might reserve a room with a rival instead. High-converting Airbnb listings tend to have a detailed property description, house rules, information about the neighborhood and an attention-grabbing title. Photos are important, too. Images can drive conversions significantly: Airbnb listings with professional photos are twice as likely to lead to a booking. Here at Pillow, we can help you create a killer listing that emphasizes your most desired features.

Knowing your target audience will help you create a fantastic listing, especially if you focus on the amenities that are most alluring to your demographic. For example, business travelers might be seduced by a property that offers easy parking or a work desk and chair. Leisure travelers, on the other hand, are more likely to desire centrally located properties close to local landmarks. If you don’t mind guests bringing their pets with them, don’t forget to advertise this on your listing. Pet-friendly properties can lead to more frequent and happier guests.

More people are booking short-term rentals than ever before, but poorly marketed properties that lack amenities are being left in the dust. Identifying your competition, finding out what your guests really want, and optimizing your property listing will ensure you stand out from the crowd. It’s survival of the fittest and only the best properties will make the grade!

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